During the 2012 election cycle, my blog took on a heavy political tone.
After-all, our nation had just suffered through four years of Obamacare, stifling EPA regulations, IRS shenanigans, Fast and Furious gun program, an ambiguous Afghan War strategy, Benghazi and on and on.
So, in an effort to express my concerns and my opinions based upon my many years of study of the political arena and to use my platform at www.fireengineering.com, I was attacked for turning the website into a political site by readers and fellow bloggers alike.
Back then as a member of FIREEMSBlogs.com, I had one simple rule and that was to never attack a fellow blogger in a disrespectful manner. We would read each others stuff and if we found disagreement, we also found a way to respectfully disagree.
Once I left FEB.com, I guess our gentlemen agreement was no longer in force, because the jabs came early and often. At the time, I was producing 3-4 articles a month. It was a very fertile period in my blogging career. I was getting noticed as a featured blogger for Bobby’s group. I was meeting up with readers at FDIC and talking shop.
Then; I shut down. I was pouring all of my emotion and energy into my writing and had nothing left in the tank to defend against the attackers. Add to that the death of my sister and writing just didn’t seem to be important anymore. I had succumbed to the opinions of others on opinions of mine.
And no; I wasn’t thinking, “Poor me”. I wasn’t thinking at all.
That was then; this is now.
Then; my detractors were arguing that I blogged for a fire service website and politics didn’t belong there. I soul-searched and I had conversations with the Boss. I was encouraged to write what I wanted, but that conundrum was choking off my creative ideas to produce thought-provoking messages.
Now; I laugh about it. I can hoist the middle finger on my right hand with unabashed enthusiasm to those who would attempt to press their world views/their set of rules onto me or anyone else for that matter. I will always stand up to the bullies, speak for those who remain silent and articulate the difficult issues of our times; fire service or not.
FDIC 2016 seemed to be unaffected by the politics of the 2016 election cycle. That is to say that I did not see any protests or hear anyone on the floor of the Convention Center arguing over candidates.
But, politics are not or should not be a part of our discussions; right? I have heard many say that they “don’t get involved in politics”. Really?
Well; if your department paid your way this year to the greatest fire service show on Earth, don’t you think that some form of politics wasn’t involved? YOU may not think so, but politics was swirling around the decision-makers, whether you want to believe it or not. And to advance that thinking…
Did you go to school? Did you play team sports? Did you get married? Did you or are you raising children? Do you live in a village, town or city? Are you on a fire department?
If you answered “yes” to any of those question; then, whether you realize it or not, you ARE involved in politics and have been for a very long time.
You don’t choose it; it chooses you.
The process is a juggernaut that touches every aspect of our lives in some way or another. It could be something innocuous or something like putting up a yard sign or giving money to a candidate.
Do you still believe that politics don’t belong in our fire service discussions?
Let’s ask Frank Ricci that question.
Does anyone remember Ricci v DeStefano?
In essence, Frank filed a reverse discrimination lawsuit against the City of New Haven, CT and prevailed.
In this matter, the legal system had to be used to thwart the politics of the city where Frank was a firefighter. The political issue was the hiring and promotions of minorities over other ethnicities in order to placate a mythical beast known as Diversity.
Frank feels so strongly about politics in the fire service that he has a blog Politics and Tactics with Frank Ricci, Anthony Avilla, PJ Norwood a....
No place for politics in the fire service?
Let’s go to Ray Pfeiffer for more.
In 2010, the James Zadroga Act was passed to provide healthcare and benefits to first responders who worked on and around the site known as “The Pile”. It was in force until 2015, at which time many involved with the legislation said that extending it beyond 2015 would not be a problem.
Fast forward to 2015 and the Zadroga Act Re-authorization bill did not pass because of partisan politics. The re-authorization bill became a political football.
Both political parties can share the blame for the problems involved with getting the Zadroga Act reauthorized, although the Republicans are getting the lion’s share of bad feelings and bad press for what appeared to be obstructionism over this crucial legislation. Ray Pfeiffer, John Feal and Jon Stewart pressed both sides relentlessly to move the Zadroga Act Reauthorization bill to the Senate floor for an up and down vote.
Many of the media outlets were reporting that “Republicans” were opposed to the re-authorization bill.
Now; any clear-headed, right-thinking person knows that NO ONE should be opposed to a bill awarding the brave men and women of public safety medical benefits after being exposed to toxic air created by a terrorist attack on our nation. The public was demanding it; I was demanding it and I am a conservative Republican.
If you have kept up with the gridlock that is known as our “representative government”, you would have noticed how dysfunctional and divisive it has become in the last eight years.
Our political system was born out of an individual’s right to oppose tyranny and to foster discussions of a person’s right to have his views represented in government. Consensus-building and compromise were key ingredients to bringing this country from its infancy to the world power that it is today. I find it hard to believe that our forefathers envisioned the convoluted procedures designed by the party in power to impose their will upon the opposition party; effectively, thwarting the voice of the people.
Ironically, this is exactly why the Revolutionary War was fought. You had a party in power-in this case, a king-imposing his will on his people without representation. I would have to compare our president’s ability to issue executive orders, executive actions and memorandums as examples of monocratic behavior that should not be allowed under our form of government. It is not designed to keep government moving; it’s designed to exact an agenda that might not otherwise be approved by the house of the people.
Clearly, we are witnessing our elected officials who have been corrupted by power that they have created to thwart the other party and no longer serve their people.
What could cause our elected officials/our “government” to turn their backs on We, the People?
Money and the power that it brings.
Political candidates cannot accept large sums of money from businesses, individuals and political action committees and say that it will not influence their decisions. But, they will say it, thereby insulting the intelligence of their constituents.
Look at the FIRE Act grant program.
For those of us who have received money through this program; we have nothing but nice things to say about our federal government.
For those of you who have not received any grants; you are probably thinking that the selection process is somehow “rigged” or you feel that your tax money is not coming back to you and your fire department. Either way, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And if you didn’t notice; as the money for FIRE Act decreased, the requirements to get the money increased. Ah, politics!
To close, I will say that the 2016 election cycle is the most unusual that I have ever witnessed and I was around when Gov. George Wallace, a segregationist governor from Alabama, ran for President as an Independent in 1968 against Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey. Wallace actually carried five states, but Nixon won.
This year, it might actually be a good time to vote Libertarian.
At least, you won’t have to hold your nose when you vote!
But vote you should.